Monday, August 18, 2014

Help! The Historical Fiction genre is suffocating me!

That ought to get your attention. Haha.

Well, folks, it's like this.  I always used to consider myself to be a fan of historical fiction, until I tried reading more of the stuff that's come out in the last decade or so, and found myself getting more and more fed up with the whole genre.  (Before, you see, I read children's books, which were better in some ways.)

But here's the other thing.  I really love the IDEA of historical fiction.  I like to read about eras gone by, and if it can't be actual classics, it has to be set in a long-ago time period.  And there's tons of it out there-- it's hard for me to believe that none of it would be suited to my tastes.  I mean, this one's great.   But I had 'inside knowledge' that led me to that, haha.

As hardly any of you probably know, I've been working at a library for the last two months.  (I know-- swellissimus, right? :D I've really been enjoying it. Boooooks.)  I'm what they call a "page", and my #1 task is shelving the books.  And keeping them organized on the shelves.  Which takes work when there is a perpetual stream of people messing it up.



Um, anyways.
Not actually a book cover,
but it looks like it could be.

The point is, I see an awful lot of books on an almost everyday basis.  And I see tons of goooorgeous book covers.  (Also some really cheesy ones that just scream "corny story going on here!")  But, in the same way that you cannot judge a book by its cover when you don't like the cover, you can't judge a book by its lovely, appealing cover, either, because it might end up being blehhhhh.  Some of them also come with an intriguing synopsis, as well-- but those also often end up being blehhhhhh.

Nothing works.

And when I'm talking about historical fiction here, I mainly mean the romance-based Christian or "inspirational" ones. Because those seem to dominate the genre.  The historical fiction books I see that aren't Christian, I doubt because who knows what content they may have.

But the books being Christian, as I have found out, does not mean I am going to approve of the content.  Sadly enough.

Wow, I'm taking forever to get to the point.  The point is, I want your recommendations... IF you can think of any books that don't have any of the things I keep finding that are incessantly annoying.

What are those things?
Here is a list.  I'm good at lists.

  • Descriptions of and references to physical attraction.  (This is the Reigning Annoyance for me, so I'm listing it first.)  To the extent that I am uncomfortable reading this because it seems inappropriate. First of all, I don't want to be filling my mind with that, and secondly, these characters are usually not married (to each other, that is-- obviously it would be even worse if they were to somebody else, ha), and more often than not aren't even engaged or courting or whatever. Ugh.  Basically, I don't want the guy in the story to be thinking at us about the girl's looks concerning anything below the nose.  Let's just say that. :P If anything else is mentioned, it must be sparingly.  And on the other side, if I read one more description about a girl admiring a man's muscles? My head will explode. And THEN my blog posts will cease altogether. ;)   Anyways... even if it didn't make me roll my eyes and/or squirm and/or stop reading the book entirely, I would still hate the shallowness of it.  So many of the books seem to have the main characters be first attracted to each other in some kind of physical way and that's how the whole story seems to go.  In my opinion, Romantic Interest should begin by attraction to their character or personality, general manners, etc... and the rest will follow-- and doesn't need to be described.  Thinking someone is handsome/pretty is not quite the same thing, but it also shouldn't be the basis of romantic interest.
  • Speaking of the guy's thoughts-- I really prefer it if there is no Male Main Character Narrative in the story.  A lot of this is because of the issue listed above, so if that's not applicable, I might not mind this too much.  Still, a lot of the way guys think tends to annoy me (sometimes it's even worse if a woman is writing it, oddly enough), and unless I'm particularly fond of the hero, I'm probably not going to care about his point of view, or would rather leave it up to my own imagination.  (Plus, the constant switching of narratives gets old.) 
  • Characters kissing before there is any understanding between them, or doing it like every time they see each other.  (My preference in general is the wedding or even after-wedding kiss being the first, which I think is really sweet, but I'm not going to not read a book because they don't follow that.  However, I hate the Random "accidental" kissing.  Um.)  Also, I don't want any kissing to be too descriptive.  Eww.  Details are not necessary.  This kind of fits in with the first matter on the list. 
  • Wife-hunters and husband-catchers.  These people annoy me in real life, so I certainly don't want to be reading about them.  That is, those who seem to view marriage as the ultimate goal of life, or at least think they need to be married, and sort of view every unattached person of the opposite gender that they come in contact with in terms of possible spouse-material.
  • In general, girls who are boy-crazy.  Eww.
  • Also guys who are girl-crazy.  Eww. :P
  • When the main guy character is pretty much a jerk and the heroine dislikes him but the guy keeps pursuing her anyways, probably obnoxiously, but somehow they end up together in the end. Especially if, while the heroine dislikes him, she apparently is secretly attracted to him the whole time.  Um what.  (If you think this sounds like P&P you are wrong on so many levels and should probably not be reading this blog. Haha.)  
  • Anything either set in Texas or with a Texan as a main character, or the book being written by a Texas author.  No offense to anybody living in that state, but it seems like every book I've tried that apply to one of those cases have been full of the stuff I can't stand.
  • Actually, not a huge fan of the western storylines-- but I'm willing to bend on that one if it really is a good story.  (After all, I would probably be considered as living in the west myself.  But I've really never been a fan of the western-y stuff, so in that way maybe I'm an insult to my side of the U.S. :P  Well, the Oregon Trail is fun.  But cowboys and the like... nope.) 
  • In general, the book must be clean-- free of often-repeated or more-than-mild swear words, and if there are Adult-ish Topics they must be dealt with Discreetly.  If you can actually find a non-Christian book that meets those requirements, by all means recommend it, as long as it's accurately old-fashioned with old-fashioned principles and they aren't trying to insert Modern Stuff and pretend it was all the same back then.
  • The whole story must not be overwhelmingly Romance.  It can have romance in it, but there has to be other stuff going on with the plot to keep me interested.
  • Nothing too soap-opera-y, please.

So.  Can it actually be POSSIBLE that there is some historical fiction out there to meet those guidelines?  I'm giving it one last chance. *narrows eyes dramatically*  (By the way, anything 1950's or earlier will qualify.  Personally, if it takes place before the 18th century, I probably won't be too interested, though.)

And in case it is any help to you, here are some things I have a fondness for:
~Schoolteachers
~The Edwardian era 
~References to Classic Literature are sprinkled throughout 
~Storylines that have a focus on close female friendship 
~England

And here are things that bore me:
~Horses
~Ranches
~Cowboys
~You get the picture
~Too many French names that are hard to keep track of, haha

Okay, sooo... I'm anxious to see if anybody can come up with anything. ;)  (Note: it doesn't have to have been published recently.  For instance, maybe Christy is so good because it was written back in 1967.)

Oh!  One last thing-- recommendations for Christmas books and why you like them, one-two-three-go.  (I'd like to have some new ones this year, and I might as well get some Choices lined up ahead of time.  It can be for children or adults, old setting or new setting, as long as it's a good story and feels Christmassy, and of course is free of inappropriateness.)

45 comments:

Emily said...

I thoroughly understand your dilemma! I have been having the same issue myself. I have read so many of these historical novels that are primarily about romance and how so-and-so is attracted to so-and-so; therefore they must get married. I am returning to my old love of classic literature where the stories actually have some depth to them and are not primarily focused on kissing. Unfortunately I do not have any modern historical novels to recommend to you.
But I do have a Christmas book! Have you ever read "The Two From Galilee" by Marjorie Holmes? I have read it twice and it was just as delightful both times.
Also, have you heard of "Stepping Heavenward" by Elizabeth Prentiss? I heartily encourage you to read it if you have not!

Melody said...

Emily,
Always nice to have people who can empathize! :)
And yes, I've been into classic literature too. But sometimes one wants a bit more of an easy read to tide one over, haha. ;) And UGH. How could I have forgotten to mention the kissing issue? It is now added. Haha.
I haven't read that Christmas book-- thanks for the recommendation! And I started reading Stepping Heavenward back when I was about fourteen but I think I got bored or something, haha. I've heard about it from a few different sources so I should probably give it another try!

Thanks!

Miss Dashwood said...

Well, I'm going to re-recommend the Grandma's Attic books, especially the later ones. The schoolteacher thing and all that. :D I'd just start with Sixteen and Away From Home if I were you-- skip the first four, they aren't necessary.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond is really good-- it's not all weird and fantasy-ish, haha. In fact it emphasizes that witchcraft is evil-- it's about the Salem witch trials, or else some town near Salem, I forget now. Anyways, I think you'd like it. Calico Captive is another good one by the same author (Elizabeth George Speare).

I really have very few recommendations to make here because you've heard most of mine already, haha, but I'm curious to see what other peeps might say so I'm going to subscribe to comments.

Melody said...

Millie Mouse,

Oh, but I HAVE read most of the later Grandma's Attic books-- I'm sure I told you that before. I started with the one you said (really liked it too), and read up to when she got married-- I started the one with her as a newlywed but I don't think I finished it, mostly because I didn't like the copy of the book we had, haha. But now I feel like I'd have to reread the other ones to be caught up to that point. It was so long ago.

Meh, I don't know if I'd like reading about witch trials... :P But I'll put it on the possibilities list. Heehee.

If I haven't read some of your recommendations, btw, feel free to remind me of what they were.

Evie Brandon said...

What a wonderful post Melody! :-)

I'll admit that title did get my attention, I was like Oooooh *clicks*

I read Children's books too, my goodreads is proof of that although I haven't added that many yet.. :-).

Ooooooh myyyy working at a library that is delightful! Oh I hear you loud and clear about some of those book titles and covers.. my copy of Pide and Prejudice, has shamefully "the funniest book ever written, so funny, the DNA of romantic comedy" plastered all over the back.. which is a great shame.

Yes! yes and yes!

Christmas books ummm ermmmm "A Christmas Carol!" In my household it is so hot when it comes to chirstmas so we always put on the Muppet version and sigh over the nice cold whether.. snowwwww *sighs*

Ah well I best be going, I have work to do...
Ta ta and lovely post Melody :D
~Evie

Miss Jane Bennet said...

Ugh, I know what you mean--I have the same problem. Sometimes they're fun to make fun of, and then sometimes they're just annoying/enraging/teeeeedious. :P Hmmm...historical fiction that's actually good...welp. I can't think of any--oh, but another thing I really hate about the genre is the People With Feminist Agendas. :P That is, I don't KNOW if they have Feminist Agendas, but I am heartily sick and tired of the girls who wish to have the freeeeedom to do what they want and not have the ruuuules apply to them. I mean, a little of that is okay--if you're going to write a spunky heroine who has other qualities besides being "spunky", go ahead! But I dislike the stories with rebellious daughters, especially when they're set in different historical periods when that type of thinking probably wasn't as prevalent.
Umm...anyways. *gets off soapbox*
I would recommend "The Victors" and "The Allies" by Jack Cavanaugh, set during WWII and WWI, respectively. They're part of the American Family Portrait series, which is good but can get rather romantic...those two, I think, are the best and also the least romance-centered, haha. But if you end up reading/liking them, I do recommend the rest of the series...I think they're very good. :)
Oh, and another recommendation is "The Little Women Letters" by Gabrielle Donnelly. They're not teeeeechnically historical fiction (hysterical fiction, my mom calls it :P), as they're set in modern day, but they involve the characters of Little Women to a certain extent, haha. Anyways, I really enjoyed it--there might have been a couple 'words' in there, I don't remember, but overall it was pretty clean. Highly recommended!
*ends this atrociously long comment*

Naomi Bennet said...

I know what you mean, but there are a great many fantastic Christian historical fiction books. Have you heard of Lynn Austin? Her books are very good indeed!

Heidi ~ Lady of Anorien said...

Yes, yes, yes!!! I so agree with every point you made! Well-done, Melody! Part of the problem I’ve noticed with the boy-girl attraction business handled as it often is, is that it point-blank makes the story shallower. It’s a short-cut to create certain emotions (read: mushy feelings—ugh!) in the reader. It takes a lot more work to be reticent as a writer rather than pouring on the descriptive words—but that thoughtful reticence often makes for a power-packed story.

I tend to read older literature/classics, but I did run across a really great story a while ago. It does have a bit of violence (but it's not graphic) and the beginning is a teensy bit slow, but my father, mother, and brother couldn’t put it down when they read it either--and it was making the rounds in one of my friend’s families, too. Title: Behold the Dawn by K.M. Weiland. I posted a review on it which (if you’re interested) you can read here: http://ladyofanorien.blogspot.com/2014/01/book-review-behold-dawn-by-km-weiland.html. Weiland also has a big (and hugely helpful) writing blog at: http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com. Her most recent book is an annotated Jane Eyre with Writers Digest!

I do hope you have success in finding some new stories! :-)

P.S. Oh! I don’t know if it would prove helpful, but I did put together a fairly big book list a while ago with a lot of my top favorites. Here’s a link for that if you want to give it a look: http://ladyofanorien-readinglist.blogspot.com/

Naomi Bennet said...

Oh, and this book:
http://www.amazon.com/The-Sweetest-Thing-Elizabeth-Musser/dp/0764208314/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1408448876&sr=8-5&keywords=the+sweetest+thing
would, I believe, suit to your guidelines. :-) I love that book so much, and I think you would too.

Kiri Liz said...

Ugh! YES!! MY thoughts exactly!! (quick confession: I didn't see this blog post until you referenced it in your comment on my review of Prelude for a Lord; which I am very glad you did, because then I had to find and read this post directly)

I am SO SICK of books masquerading as good literature and then exposing themselves to be full of nonsensical fluff, and not the sweet, fun fluff either -- I'm talking the annoying, disgusting fluff. Why can't we have God-honoring books anymore??? I rant on this topic like no other.

BUT you've pretty much said what needs to be said, so I'll keep moving on. :)

Hmm... historical books I'd recommend? Obviously the Elsie Dinsmore and Mildred Keith books, which includes the new re-written series under the name "A Life of Faith." Those were some of my absolute favorite books growing up, and at a time, I considered Elsie and Millie my only friends. Don't ever say you can't connect with characters like that. I loved them just as I loved my own sisters.

Life Behind the Wall is a series of three short stories by Robert Elmer, if you like WWII era. There was a wedding, if I recall, but it was for secondary characters. I really enjoyed that one. Little House books, definitely. Caroline, Martha, Charlotte, & Laura were my favorites -- in that order. The Mackinac Island Trilogy (by Gloria Whelan) is also really good. I loved those, and now I'm feeling ashamed because I haven't picked them up in a few years. Oh... if you like Revolutionary War and some suspense, Thomas J. Brodeur's Regina Silsby books are epic. It's about a girl who masquerades as a ghost to help out the American cause. No romance whatsoever. And I'd majorly push for anyone E. Nesbit -- The Railway Children and The Wouldbegoods are so much fun! And then the McLean Courtship books by Stephen B. Castleberry. My sisters and I love those!

I know you said no Texas, but if anyone's interested (I know people are subscribing to this post to see what books other people recommend), I'd highly recommend Alicia A. Willis's Remembering the Alamo (my review went live today on kiribeth.blogspot.com).

Okay, I'm done for now.

Julia VanDelft said...

I SO agree with this! Especially the part about the male character's point of view. First of all, I find no woman writer even does this well, because it's all about how pretty the girl looks and blah blah blah, and second, I think it's more intriguing to read a book where the reader is left guessing what the guy is thinking.

I remember reading a long time ago The Silk House series by Linda Lee Chaikin (about Huguenots in France) and really liking it, but my taste has changed a bit so I can't remember if it fits all the criteria. I do think they're not as shallow as some American Western ones.

I also liked When Calls the Heart by Janette Oke, but I didn't really like the rest of the series. Again, I read that a long time ago.

As for non-Christian historical fiction, I find it hard to find anything that's clean. However, I remember really liking The Blackstone Key by Rose Melikan and its sequels (The Counterfeit Guest and The Mistaken Wife.

Also, I just picked up a new book that came out this year called Jewel of the Thames by Angela Misri. It's about a girl detective who finds out her grandfather is John Watson. While I was disappointed that the author made John Watson have multiple wives, I did really like it overall.

I also recommend reading some books by Pearl S. Buck, who wrote mainly about China in the late 1800s and early 1900s. They definitely don't fit under the Christian historical fiction section, but there are no steamy parts. She writes it like it is and you learn a lot. I like reading historical fiction that opens your eyes about things that really happened in the world, instead of lame romances set in Texas.

Anyway, this was a long comment, but I hope some of my suggestions are helpful, and I also like seeing others' suggestions. I do love historical fiction, but I've been disappointed so many times.

Julia VanDelft said...

One other quick suggestion is Georgette Heyer, if you like books set in the Regency era with a more Austen-y feeling. They're not Christian, but they are clean, and usually funny, although sometimes a bit silly as well. Georgette Heyer wrote in the 50s I believe, so they're not new. Look up the best rated ones, though, because she wrote a lot and they can be hit and miss.

Abby said...

I like:
Moccasin Trail
Master Cornhill
The Golden Goblet
which are by Eloise Jarvis McGraw.

God King
Hittite Warrior
by Joanne Williamson

Bronze Bow
and I second Calico Captive and Witch of Blackbird Pond; all three are by Elizabeth George Speare.

I really like Mara, Daughter of the Nile, by Eloise Jarvis McGraw, but that has quite a bit of lovey stuff in it. :) It's a very good story, though.

Some of them are Christian, some are not, but I think they are all well-written.

Oh, yes, I also enjoyed When My Name Was Keoko, and A Single Shard, by Linda Sue Park. Not Christian books, unfortunately, but both had some good Korean history in them.

Melody said...

Evie,
Heehee. That was the general idea. :D
I've read A Christmas Carol! :) And we watch an adaptation every year on Christmas Eve! I recommend the 1984 one with George C. Scott. It's the bestest. Muppets is a tradition for some time during the season, though!

Mercy,
(That means you, Miss Jane...)
Yes. One can make fun of something for only too long before one becomes infuriated. Haha.
ARGH YES YES. Well, that fits into what I meant about Modernness being stuck into something that's supposed to be old-fashioned... although I was referencing non-Christian books at the time. Well, it goes on in the Christian ones too. Yuck. :P I mean, it's not as if I hold an opposite view of all feminists, haha, but yeah, the kind of thing you're talking about drives me nuts-- it's especially noticeable in those books about women trying to be doctors and not being Accepted and Blah Blah. (Not that I think they should have been discriminated against and for pity's sake, wouldn't women feel more comfortable having a woman doctor? but I get tired of that same old thing.)
And then there's Michael Landon Jr. who takes a story that's otherwise fine in that way and MAKES it fit into that stereotype and grrrrrrrrrrrr, um, I shouldn't open that envelope. :P
Thanks for your recommendations!

Naomi,
I have heard of Lynn Austin but I haven't read any of her books. Not all of them are historical fiction, though, are they? Do you have any particular titles to recommend? And thanks for your other recommendation-- I will keep it in mind. :)

Heidi,
Thank you!! It's refreshing to find people who agree. :) YES, it makes the story so much more shallow. Every time I try reading one of them I'm just like "UGH this is why I love Jane Austen so much." Haha. She's written my favorite romances ever, ones that have a lot of depth, without hardly ever going to the guy's side of the story, and sometimes without even writing the dialogue for the declaration scene-- and when she DOES attempt that it's very touching without being cheesy and is void of Fluff.
Um, anyways.
Thank you for your recommendations!

Kiri Liz,
Haha, that really wasn't supposed to be a plug to my post-- I merely didn't want to rehash in the comment. ;)
You know what'as a horrible thing, is that I've only read about one and a half of the Little House books-- I really DO need to finish those sometime, thanks for the reminder! :)
And the recommendations.

Julia VanDelft,
Yes, I would much rather be left guessing, haha-- I read one of these books and I'm like "UGH, please tell me this is NOT really how guys think all the time or I will be sick and go lock myself away from them forever." :P
Ooh, I've read When Calls the Heart-- I agree, it was the best one in the series. Well, the first four are okay, but the two tacked-on about her daughter-- meh. I don't think I even finished those. But yeah, I liked the storyline of the first one.
I'm hoping you mean that John Watson's wife died and he married somebody else, not that they made him a bigamist. Hahahahaha. ;) But that sounds like a good plot.
And I've been meaning to read Georgette Heyer sometime! Do you have any particular favorite(s)?
Thank you!

Abby,
Thanks for the recommendations! :)

Evie Brandon said...

Yeah it's me again....
Hahaha yeah I think I do need to work on with coming up with better titles for my posts. I will need your help on that? :D Oooh thank you for the recommendation I will look into it! :)

Naomi Bennet said...

Melody, well yes not all of her books are historical fiction, but most of them are. My favourites are the Refiner's fire series, and Wonderland Creek (I've named my blog after it!) but there *are* some kisses before marriage and some of them *are* described in detail. But they are very Christian and the best written books evah. After Jane Austen, rest assured. But as for the other book I recommended, it fits with pretty much all your standards, I should think.

Evie Brandon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Naomi Bennet said...

Oh yes, "The Sweetest Thing" does have a girl-crazy guy, but then he's the bad guy. Oh, maybe you wouldn't like it...

Melody said...

Evie,
Well, I'm afraid that I have a great deal of trouble myself coming up with post titles... I think it is something most of us bloggers suffer and if you see a good one you can probably count on us sitting there for a long time trying to think it up! ;) The one like I did on this post can't be used too often or else it gets old, and is actually a bit of a cop-out, haha. ;) But I'm glad if you enjoyed it.
Yup, I saw your email! I'll answer it when I have the time. I'm afraid I'm getting behind on a lot of correspondence lately!

Naomi,
Well, the kisses being described in detail is what I don't like... so basically whether it's before OR after marriage I don't really want to read that. Haha. It pleases me when they wait to kiss till after their wedding, but it's not a requisite for me to read the book and I still don't want the descriptions, if that makes sense.
And if a guy being girl-crazy is not supposed to be a good character, that's different. I'm talking about one of the main characters being that way. Blehh. Haha.

Naomi Bennet said...

Yup, I understand totally. I agree, sometimes it goes too far. Shudder.

Bona Caballero said...

As my personal tastes in romance novels are quite different than yours, I cannot help you with modern historical romances. But I think there's a classical author that you'd enjoy -Georgette Heyer. She's witty, with certain depth, and ambitions towards the literary and I think she's got none of those things that you dislike.
The Talisman Ring, The Grand Sophy or Venetia could be good books to start reading her.

Julia VanDelft said...

Hahahaha yes, by John Watson having "multiple wives" I meant not all at once. He divorced some of them and remarried and I think some of them died. It wasn't very important in the story, though.

Anonymous said...

Specifically for Julie, hate to burst your bubble ma'am, but in the original Holmes canon as written by Arthur Conan Doyle, Watson DID have more than one wife....
Check out Sherlock Peoria
and Wikipedia

Evie Brandon said...

Haha :) That's fine! Get to it when you can and I will work on my blog titles.. hmmm

Anonymous said...

Hi, you might want to try Rosemary Sutcliff, she writes true historical fiction, meaning it's about the history not romance or something like that. That's not to say they're boring, they have very interesting storylines. And they're clean as far as I remember.
Also, I have a friend who wrote a two-part book about the Civil War called He Was Her Brother. you can find that on Amazon I think.
~Eleni

Lily said...

M'dear Melody,

Let me see what I can do here (although I'm not sure I can forgive you - you don't like cowboys?! You just need to meet a few more. Haha I'm just kidding. ;D) Okay, *cracks knuckles and wiggles fingers* I'm looking at my bookshelf and library bag annnnd:
You really ought to try "The Enchanted April" by Elizabeth von Arnim. It was originally written in 1922 and is one of my favorite books EVER. In fact, one of the main characters goes on vacation just to get away from admiring suitors in general. It left me feeling very happy inside and I found the writing quite delightful.
Next up, did you ever try the Emily books by L.M. Montgomery? (Emily of New Moon, Emily Climbs, and Emily's Quest?) She grows up wanting to write (and does because she doesn't have internet, haha) I really liked them.
And lastly, don't forget about "To Say Nothing of the Dog" by Connie Willis. It was time travel back to England in 1888 and it was so funny! No mushy romance, and a cat plays quite the important part throughout the whole story.
Okay, that's all I have for now. Good luck!

Melody said...

Bona Caballero,
Thanks! I do want to try Georgette Heyer someday. :) It would be nice to read some accurate Regency-set fiction... the ones I've tried always sound too modern, even when the characters are speaking, and that's what particularly bothers me.

Anonymous,
Personally I find the six wives things a biiiit far-fetched. None of it was based on facts, just that person's interpretation of what they were reading.

Eleni,
Thank you! :)

Lily,
Heh, heh, I was thinking you might not particularly care for that stipulation. :P But I tend to not like cowboy stories and that's a fact. Especially more modern-written ones. Some Janette Oke characters can be okay if they actually know how to speak correct English, hahaha.
Ooh, I do need to try The Enchanted April. It is now on my list. :) I've always intended to get to the Emily books one of these days!! And I'd already put To Say Nothing of the Dog on my list... it sounds fun! :D I'll be sure to keep you updated.
And you still need to read Mr. Knightley's Diary. Wink wink.

The Elf said...

I also second the vote for Georgette Heyer! Her books are witty & enjoyable and also very thoroughly researched. My major quibble with most contemporary "historical" fiction is that it is soooo inaccurate. Christian historical fiction is particularly bad at this, unfortunately. Very very few Christian authors can write good historical novels in my opinion. :)

A good starting book for Georgette Heyer is Arabella. One of my absolute favourites. :D
Friday's Child, Cotillion & The Grand Sophy are also good fun. Devil's Cub is another of her best but to understand it you would have to read its prequel, These Old Shades, which can be a bit boring. Start of with those and you should get hooked (hopeuflly)

Another series, set in the 1920s, is the Miss Billie series (3 books) written by Eleanor H Porter who wrote the first two Pollyanna books. They're sweet :)

Hope you find some new favourites amongst everyone's suggestions.

- The Elf

The Elf said...

Couple other suggestions:

Don't know how you'd like nursing novels but the Sue Barton series is set in the 1930s and is a fun read - includes close female friendships!

And... you would love this series, I am sure... but the catch is, I highly highly doubt it is available in America. They are English and also not printed much anymore or possibly not at all.
The Abbey Girls series (1920s-30s) is set in England, contains close female friendships and focusses on English country dancing. It's a most delightful series and if you could find the books, I'm sure you'd really enjoy them. (Even if they were written more for young / teenage girls)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abbey_Series

- The Elf

Lily said...

M'dear Melody,

Ya'll know I was only teasin', right? ; ) Hehe, I don't really like cowboy stories either - a very, VERY, select few. Mr. Knightley's diary is on top priority on my list - if only I had time to read right now! Ah well, maybe in a few weeks... Have I told you how much I like it when you or Amy have book suggestion posts? I have found the most delightful books through them, including Nine Coaches Waiting and the Potato Peel Pie book. :D

Melody said...

Lily,
Awwwuh, COURSE I know you was teasin'. :P
Whooops, did I say Mr. Knightley's Diary... hahaha. Nope nope nope. I meant Dear Mr. Knightley. The former is a good enough book in its own right but the two are very, very different and the latter is what I was recommending. :D
And if you like seeing what books other people like to find some good ones yourself, you really should try getting a Goodreads account. *wink, wink*

Lily said...

My goodness, lots of winking! :) I will check Goodreads out, sounds like my cup of tea! Okay, I was wondering about the title, because the diary thing was that author doing Jane Austen stories from the men characters... hehe, big difference. Thanks!

Robert said...

Some book suggestions:

Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson

Linnets and Valerians by Elizabeth Goudge

Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace

Sarah,Plain and Tall series by Patricia MacLachlan

Raelyn said...

I would definitely agree with the recommendation of Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Printiss. I am currently rereading it and enjoying it so much. You might also want to try Aunt Jane's Hero also by Elizabeth Printiss as well as Tip Lewis and His Lamp by Isabella Alden. All three of these fall into the category of inspirational Christian fiction. They were written to encourage rather than entertain the readers.

As far as secular fiction goes, my sister loves the Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace. I read the companion book Emily of Deep Valley and loved it. I would also recommend Daddy-Long Legs by Jean Webster, Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter, and Heidi by Joanna Spyri.

Anonymous said...

Melody,

Just stumbled upon your blog this afternoon, and couldn't resist the urge to tell you of my ALL-TIME-FAVORITE Historical Christian Fiction Author; Linda Lee Chaikin. You may have already read some of her books, but if not, from what you have posted, it sounds to me as if you would really like her books... I've not read them all, but I've read several of her trilogies-- personal favorite is her Buccaneers series, probably because it was the first I read ;) But I LOVE it!!! Her 'Silk' series, and Arabian Winds series are great also... Her books are definitely romance, but have excellent, well-thought-out, and well-researched plots.

Hope you will check them out if you have not read them :)

Blessings, Sarah Goodwin

Anonymous said...

Hello, I actually just stumbled upon your blog but after reading this post (and completely agreeing) I couldn't resist leaving some suggestions.
You said you enjoyed children's books so to start I recommend ANYTHING by Bethlehem book publishers. If you're not familiar with them, the reprint good children's historical fiction. "The Ides of April" (Ancient Rome), "Beorn the Proud" (Vikings Era), and "The Winged Watchman" (WWII-Holland) are all really good. I know the first two aren't in time-periods you prefer but if story trumps setting for you then these are all must reads. Also an older book called "Men of Iron" by Howard Pyle. It has some slow parts but is a great story.
A personal favorite set during and after WWII is called "Escape from Warsaw: or the Silver Sword" by Ian Serraillier.
And of course anything by Louisa May Alcott. (Or G. A. Henty. :) I know he wrote mostly for boys about boys but I enjoyed almost all his books, it's real historical fiction and "In the Reign of Terror" is shorter, non-military, and has girls as almost main characters.)
I know this was a bit long but I hope it's helpful. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I don't suppose you've heard of - Oh, what was her name? Ah, yes - Jane Austen?

...Just kidding. :)

Have you heard of "Mollie," by Mollie Dorsey Sanford (it's a journal)? It's hard to come by, but I adore it. It's set on the American frontier, 1850s-ish, but no way is it western.

One of my favorite historical authors is Janette Oke. Her books are all clean (hooray!), and most are set in the Edwardian era. :) One catch: they are slightly Christian-themed. It's not the entire focus of her novels, though. Values are discussed and upheld, but I wouldn't really classify it as "Christian fiction." My favorites of her books so far have been "A Gown of Spanish Lace," "When Calls the Heart," "The Bluebird and the Sparrow," "Roses for Mama," and the "Song of Acadia" series. The best part about her books is that most of her books have multiple sequels, so if you really fall in love with the characters, you can continue with their story and the stories of their children.

Have you tried Georgette Heyer? Some of her books might have too much romance for you, but there are a few that I think you'd really like: "The Talisman Ring," "The Grand Sophy," "Frederica," and "Cotillion." My very favorite of hers is "The Toll-Gate," but it might have a bit too much romance for what you're looking for.

I think it's absolutely wonderful that you have such high standards. Keep it up! :)

M. West

Hannu Heino said...

Have you ever considered the Horatio Hornblower series by C.S. Forester?
They are excellent pieces of historical fiction.
As a fan of the Regency period you would surely love them. Although the main characters are naval officers, there is some romance, too.

Natalie said...

YES YES YES YES THANK YOU!!!!
One of the main reasons I don't read much new historical "Christian fiction" is because of the your first point.
Why do authors think their characters have to be always attracted to each other physically?? Like, as you said, below the nose physically. (Or at least below their smile, haha) It's so shallow and annoying. It's okay if they're beautiful/handsome, but when that's the only positive attribute they have (or the only one the attracted person thinks of) it's just....ugh.
And described kissing is another. I don't need any information other than "they kissed", thankyouverymuch.
It just puts thoughts in the readers head that should not be there!
So I just had to comment in agreement with that subject as it's one of my major pet peeves concerning Christian fiction.
Have you ever heard of The Orphan Train West series by Jane Peart? (It's not actually a Western series, so don't worry)

Naomi Bennet said...

Dear Melody,
I have a small question for you: Would it be all-right if I linked your 'Road to Avonlea Review' in my blog? I've started a L.M.Montgomery blog recently and your review is really good (just in case it has escaped your mind: it was a guest post at Amy's blog) so I was wondering if I could add the link in my 'useful links' page.
Thanks!
~ Naomi

Melody said...

Everyone else-- thanks for your suggestions!
M. West: I have indeed read quite a bit of Janette Oke. :) It was several years ago though... I'm thinking about rereading some of them. See, hers were the first Adult Historical Fiction books I read and I imagined they were all like that. The whole less-than-clean stuff was a sad shock to me. Haha.

Naomi,
I would be flattered! :) I was thinking around that time of branching out and doing a season-by-season series review of RTA but I never got around to it, haha. But I'm glad that one is of use to you. :)

Sophie said...

It's me! :P I've decided that I might as well say something on this post, even if 'twill be weeks late and I'll be the last one. Siiiiiigh.
I absolutely, completely know what you mean about historical fiction. Eww. I'm accustomed to listing it among my favourite genres, but really... There are sadly few books I could recommend. I could go into a massive long rant about Standards of Literature now, but you've practically said it all for me, so I shall restrain... *deep breath*
Your list is a little daunting, hahaa. Not that I'd really read anything outside of what you said, but anyways. One author I would recommend (if you don't already know her, which you might) is Elizabeth Goudge. (I just tried to spell that surname and got it wrong several times. Ugh. :P) She lived around WW2, methinks, and wrote several books set around them, but also some historical fiction. The best example I can think of is Gentian Hill... That's around the Napoleonic Wars, and *is* romantic, but has other elements too. She's a Christian writer, and does deal with a couple of adult topics, but discreetly. And not in that book, I think. (I haven't read it for a while, so I can't be quiiiite sure.) And there may be one or two not-too-terrible words, but nothing that really needs crossing out or avoiding. I'm just being cautious. ;)
Wow, if you take all these recommendations, you won't run out of books for a looong time.

'Twas a long comment. As soon, as I realised there was actually something I could say, I began to ramble. Anyway, I'm done now. :D

Waiiit, Blogger said I was a robot because I typed the letters wrong. MEEEEAAAN. :P

Naomi Bennet said...

Melody, Thanks! Yes, I really did enjoy that review - and I agreed with you on many points. I've added the link. :)
~ Naomi

Melody said...

Sophie m'dear,
I was very excited to get your first comment! I know, me taking this long to answer is no indicator of that, haha, but... I was busy. :P
EXACTLY. It's an easy genre to mention it as a favorite but then you think about it and there aren't many particular books you'd recommend, haha.
Well, obviously I do not mind romantic plots in stories. I just don't like the overly-descriptiveness of shallow elements that a lot of them have. Books written earlier in the 20th century are generally a lot better. Even if they're silly it's not really the disgusting sort...you just roll your eyes. Heehee.
Anyway, I'll have to keep Elizabeth Goudge in mind. :)
Oh, I'm never going to run out of books. I have about ten million on my to-read list. :P
That's what always happens to me with comments, heehee. :)

Anonymous said...

I am recommending a book I thoroughly enjoyed: It is probably in the category of Christian Romance and is set in modern times. (I normally do not like romances because of...you can guess, but because I found it at CUM (a Christian bookstore) I decided to give it a chance. I always read a few pages from a book before I buy it, and when I read this book I really liked the style and font, and so on.) I hope it is to your liking and if you buy it that you will enjoy it. The book is called: Once Upon a Prince, by Rachel Hauck. Published in 2013 by Zondervan.

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